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How Payroll Deductions Are Calculated: A Comprehensive Guide

In the realm of managing employee compensation, understanding payroll deductions is a fundamental aspect that employers must grasp. Payroll deductions play a crucial role in ensuring accurate and timely payment to employees while also fulfilling various legal and regulatory requirements. This article delves into the intricacies of how payroll deductions are calculated, the types of deductions allowed, and the advantages and disadvantages of using professional payroll services.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction

  2. How Do Payroll Deductions Work?

  3. When Deductions May Be Required

  4. Types of Deductions Allowed

  5. Deducting Salaries of Migrant Workers

  6. Maximum Amount of Deductions

  7. Statutory Deductions

  8. How to Calculate Payroll Deductions

  9. Advantages of Using Professional Payroll Services

  10. Disadvantages of Using Professional Payroll Services

  11. Conclusion

  12. FAQs

    1. What is the purpose of payroll deductions?

    2. Can employers make deductions without employee consent?

    3. Are there any limits to the amount that can be deducted?

    4. How often should payroll deductions be reviewed?

    5. Is outsourcing payroll services a common practice?


Payroll deductions are the amounts subtracted from an employee's gross earnings to determine the net pay they receive. These deductions encompass various elements, including taxes, benefits, and other authorized deductions. As an employer, comprehending the intricacies of payroll deductions is essential for both legal compliance and fostering positive employee relations.

How Do Payroll Deductions Work?

Payroll deductions in Singapore are a cornerstone of the employment framework, intricately woven into the compensation structure for employees. These deductions play a pivotal role in determining the take-home pay of individuals, encompassing various financial aspects such as taxes, social contributions, and employee benefits. Understanding the mechanics of payroll deductions in the Singaporean context is paramount for both employers and employees to ensure accurate remuneration and adherence to legal obligations.

At its essence, the process of payroll deductions revolves around withholding a portion of an employee's earnings to fulfill financial commitments. In Singapore, this process is heavily influenced by the nation's progressive tax system and comprehensive social security framework. The country's Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme, akin to a social security program, mandates contributions from both employers and employees, forming a significant component of payroll deductions.

Employers in Singapore are required to deduct CPF contributions from their employees' salaries, channeling these funds into the CPF accounts. These contributions serve multiple purposes, including retirement, healthcare, housing, and other financial needs. The deductions are calculated based on various factors, such as the employee's age and wage bracket, with specific percentages allocated to different CPF accounts.

Another notable deduction in the Singaporean context is income tax. The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) administers income tax collection, with employers playing a crucial role in its implementation. Through the progressive tax structure, individuals with higher incomes contribute a larger portion of their earnings as taxes. Employers are responsible for deducting the appropriate tax amount from their employees' salaries and forwarding it to the IRAS.

Beyond taxes and social security contributions, Singapore offers a range of employee benefits that can be integrated into payroll deductions. These benefits may include healthcare insurance, pension schemes, and voluntary savings plans. The deductions for these benefits are often flexible, allowing employees to tailor their financial planning according to their unique needs and preferences.

When Deductions May Be Required

In Singapore, deductions from employees' salaries may be required under specific circumstances outlined by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). These deductions serve to ensure legal compliance, protect both employers and employees, and contribute to a fair and transparent employment landscape. Here are some instances where deductions may be required:

Deductions Required by Law

  1. CPF Contributions: Employers are mandated to deduct Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions from their employees' salaries. These contributions go towards the employees' retirement, healthcare, housing, and other financial needs.

  2. Income Tax: Employers are responsible for deducting the appropriate income tax amount from employees' salaries and remitting it to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).

Overpayment or Advances

  1. Salary Overpayment: If there has been an accidental overpayment of salary, employers can deduct the excess amount from future salary payments with the employee's consent.

  2. Salary Advances: In some cases, employers provide salary advances to employees. These advances are deducted from subsequent salary payments.

Statutory Deductions

  1. Mandatory Deductions: Deductions may be required to meet statutory obligations, such as court orders, garnishments, and maintenance orders.

Table: Deductions Required by Law

​Deduction Type


Relevant Authority

CPF Contributions

Retirement, healthcare, housing, and financial needs

Central Provident Fund Board

Income Tax / Tax Clearance

Funding government programs

​Inland Revenue Authority

These deductions serve to ensure financial responsibility, legal compliance, and the overall welfare of employees. Employers must adhere to these regulations and communicate transparently with their employees regarding any required deductions. The MOM website provides comprehensive information and guidelines on salary deductions to facilitate fair and ethical employment practices in Singapore.

For more detailed information and specific cases, you can refer to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) website

Types of Deductions Allowed

In Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has established guidelines regarding the types of deductions that are allowed to be made from employees' salaries. These deductions are designed to ensure fairness, transparency, and compliance with the law. Here are the types of deductions allowed in the Singaporean context, as per the MOM guidelines:

1. Statutory Deductions:

These deductions are authorized by law and are often mandatory to meet specific legal obligations. They include:

  • CPF Contributions: Employers deduct Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions from employees' salaries, which go towards their retirement, healthcare, housing, and other financial needs.

  • Income Tax: Employers deduct income tax amounts from employees' salaries and remit them to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).

  • Foreign Worker Levy: Employers hiring foreign workers deduct levies as stipulated by prevailing regulations.

2. Deductions with Employee's Consent:

Certain deductions can be made with the employee's explicit consent. These include:

  • Salary Advances: Employers may deduct salary advances provided to employees from their subsequent salary payments.

  • Overpayment Correction: If there has been an accidental overpayment of salary, the excess amount can be deducted from future salary payments with the employee's consent.

3. Deductions for Absence from Work:

Deductions can be made for employees' absence from work under specific conditions:

  • No-Pay Leave: If an employee takes unpaid leave, deductions can be made from their salary for the corresponding period.

4. Deductions for Damage or Loss:

Deductions may be made for damage or loss of company property or funds, provided:

  • The employee has been informed in writing about the specific deductions and the reason for them.

  • The total deductions do not exceed the actual damage or loss incurred.

5. Deductions for Loans and Advances:

Employers may deduct repayments for loans or salary advances given to employees, as long as:

  • The employee has given written consent to the deductions.

  • The total monthly deduction does not exceed 25% of the employee's salary.

6. Deductions for Benefits and Amenities:

Deductions for benefits and amenities provided by the employer, such as accommodation or meals, must meet certain conditions:

  • The employer must obtain the employee's written consent.

  • The value of the benefit or amenity must not exceed a specified amount.

Deducting Salaries of Migrant Workers

In Singapore, the issue of deducting salaries from migrant workers is subject to careful regulation to protect the rights and welfare of this vulnerable segment of the workforce. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has laid out guidelines to ensure fair and ethical treatment of migrant workers when it comes to salary deductions. These regulations are in place to prevent exploitation and to ensure that workers are compensated fairly for their labor.

1. Deductions with Consent:

Employers can make deductions from the salaries of migrant workers, but only with the explicit consent of the workers. These deductions must be related to authorized purposes such as accommodation, food, or other agreed-upon amenities. The employer must maintain a clear record of the agreed deductions and ensure that they are transparently communicated to the workers.

2. Deductions for Non-Work-Related Purposes:

Deductions for purposes unrelated to the worker's job responsibilities are generally not allowed. This ensures that the deductions are directly related to the benefits or amenities provided to the workers and are not used as a means of reducing the worker's wages.

3. Limits on Deductions:

Deductions from a migrant worker's salary should not exceed a certain percentage of their basic monthly salary. The MOM has set specific limits to prevent excessive deductions that could negatively impact the worker's livelihood.

4. Transparency and Documentation:

Employers are required to maintain detailed records of salary deductions, including the worker's consent, the purpose of the deduction, and the amount deducted. These records serve as evidence that deductions are being made in accordance with the law and with the worker's understanding and consent.

5. Dispute Resolution:

In case of disputes over salary deductions, the MOM provides a platform for workers to raise their concerns. Employers are obligated to address these concerns and provide justifications for any deductions made.

6. Penalties for Non-Compliance:

Employers found to be making unauthorized or excessive deductions can face penalties, including fines and other legal consequences. These penalties are in place to deter unfair practices and protect the rights of migrant workers.

7. Employer Responsibilities:

Employers have a duty to provide clear and accurate information to migrant workers regarding their terms of employment, including salary and deductions. They are also expected to ensure that deductions are made in a fair and transparent manner.

The regulations surrounding the deduction of salaries from migrant workers in Singapore are designed to safeguard the rights and interests of this vulnerable group. Adhering to these regulations not only upholds ethical employment practices but also contributes to a harmonious working environment that respects the dignity and contributions of all workers

Maximum Amount of Deductions

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has established regulations regarding the maximum amount of deductions that can be made from employees' salaries. These regulations are in place to protect the rights of workers and to prevent unfair practices that could adversely affect their livelihoods. The guidelines ensure that deductions are reasonable and do not overly burden employees.

Maximum Deduction Limit:

The maximum amount that can be deducted from an employee's salary is capped at 25% of their basic monthly wage. This ensures that a substantial portion of an employee's earnings remains intact, providing them with a fair and sustainable income.

Exceptions for Deductions:

Certain deductions, such as CPF contributions and income tax, are not subject to the 25% limit, as they are legally mandated and serve specific purposes such as retirement savings and funding government programs.

Protection Against Excessive Deductions:

The 25% limit is in place to prevent employers from making deductions that could potentially leave employees with insufficient funds to cover their essential living expenses. This protection ensures that employees are not unduly burdened by excessive deductions and can maintain a reasonable standard of living.

Transparent Communication:

Employers must clearly communicate with employees regarding the deductions being made from their salaries. This includes providing information about the purpose of the deductions, the amounts, and the frequency. Transparent communication helps employees understand their financial situation and make informed decisions.

Dispute Resolution:

In cases where employees believe that deductions exceed the allowable limit or are made without proper authorization, the MOM provides a platform for dispute resolution. This ensures that employees have a recourse to address unfair practices and seek resolution.

Balancing Employer and Employee Needs:

While employers have a responsibility to manage their businesses effectively, these regulations ensure that deductions do not disproportionately affect employees. The maximum deduction limit strikes a balance between the interests of employers and the rights of workers.

Adhering to these regulations guarantees that deductions are made within reasonable boundaries, promoting fairness and ethical employment practices. Employers must be diligent in calculating deductions and ensure that they do not exceed the stipulated limit.

How to Calculate Payroll Deductions

Calculating payroll deductions in Singapore involves a systematic process that considers various components, such as CPF contributions, income tax, and other authorized deductions. Adhering to accurate calculations ensures that employees receive their rightful compensation while fulfilling their financial obligations. Here's how payroll deductions are calculated in the Singaporean context:

  1. Gather Employee Information: Start by collecting essential information about the employee, including their basic salary, allowances, and any additional income sources. This data forms the basis for accurate calculations.

  2. Calculate Gross Earnings: Determine the employee's gross earnings for the pay period. This includes the basic salary, overtime pay, and any other earnings agreed upon.

  3. CPF Contributions: Calculate the employee's and employer's contributions to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts. Refer to the CPF contribution rates provided by the CPF Board. Deduct the employee's share from their gross earnings and contribute the employer's share as mandated.

  4. Income Tax Calculation: Refer to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) guidelines to calculate the employee's income tax based on their earnings and tax bracket. Deduct the calculated income tax from the gross earnings.

  5. Other Authorized Deductions: Deduct other authorized deductions, such as union fees, insurance premiums, or voluntary contributions to benefits like healthcare or retirement plans. Ensure that these deductions are made with the employee's consent and adhere to legal regulations.

  6. Calculate Net Pay: Subtract the total deductions (CPF contributions, income tax, and other authorized deductions) from the gross earnings. The resulting amount is the employee's net pay, which is the actual amount they will receive in their paycheck.

  7. Record Keeping: Maintain accurate records of the calculations, including the breakdown of deductions and contributions. This documentation is crucial for transparency, compliance, and dispute resolution.

  8. Review and Verification: Before finalizing the calculations, review the deductions to ensure accuracy and compliance with legal regulations. Double-check the CPF contributions, income tax deductions, and other authorized deductions.

  9. Timely Remittance: Ensure that the deducted amounts, such as CPF contributions and income tax, are remitted to the relevant authorities on time. Non-compliance with remittance deadlines can result in penalties.

  10. Communication: Clearly communicate with employees about the deductions being made from their salaries. Provide them with a breakdown of deductions and ensure they understand the purpose and amount of each deduction.

By following these steps, employers in Singapore can calculate payroll deductions accurately and ethically. Adhering to legal regulations and maintaining transparent communication contributes to a harmonious employer-employee relationship and ensures fair compensation practices

Advantages of Using Professional Payroll Services

Using professional payroll services in the context of Singapore offers numerous advantages, particularly in ensuring accurate and efficient payroll processes. These advantages directly relate to the topic of "How Payroll Deductions Are Calculated," as professional services play a crucial role in accurate deductions and compliance. Here are the key advantages of utilizing professional payroll services in Singapore:

  1. Accurate and Consistent Deductions: Professional payroll services are well-versed in Singapore's complex payroll regulations. They ensure precise calculations of deductions, including CPF contributions, income tax, and other authorized deductions. This accuracy prevents errors and ensures that employees' net pay is calculated correctly.

  2. Compliance with Regulations: Singapore's payroll regulations are subject to frequent updates. Professional payroll services keep abreast of these changes, ensuring that all deductions are made in compliance with the latest legal requirements. This compliance prevents potential legal and financial repercussions.

  3. Timely Processing: Professional payroll services have streamlined systems that facilitate prompt processing. This ensures that deductions are calculated, deducted, and remitted on time, preventing delays that could inconvenience employees.

  4. Reduced Administrative Burden: Calculating deductions involves meticulous record-keeping and administrative tasks. By outsourcing to professionals, employers can offload these tasks, allowing their internal teams to focus on core business operations.

  5. Expertise in Complex Deductions: Certain scenarios, such as deductions for foreign workers or specific industry-related benefits, require a deep understanding of regulations. Professional payroll services possess expertise in handling such complexities accurately.

  6. Data Security: Handling sensitive financial information requires robust security measures. Reputable payroll service providers prioritize data security, safeguarding both the company's and employees' sensitive information.

  7. Efficiency in Handling Employee Changes: Employee circumstances, such as promotions, leaves, or resignations, can impact deductions. Professional payroll services efficiently adjust deductions according to these changes, ensuring accuracy and compliance.

  8. Electronic Payslips: Professional services often provide electronic payslips, enhancing transparency. Employees can view their deductions, gross pay, and net pay conveniently, reducing queries and enhancing employee satisfaction.

  9. Minimized Errors: Manual payroll calculations are susceptible to errors. Professional payroll services use automated systems that minimize the risk of calculation mistakes, ensuring accurate deductions.

  10. Customized Reporting: Employers often require various reports for auditing and analysis purposes. Professional payroll services offer customized reports that provide insights into deductions and payroll trends.

  11. Responsive Support: In case of queries or discrepancies, professional payroll services offer responsive support. They can address employee inquiries regarding deductions, enhancing employee trust and satisfaction.

  12. Focus on Core Activities: Outsourcing payroll services allows employers to concentrate on their core business activities rather than getting bogged down by the intricacies of payroll calculations.

Using professional payroll services in Singapore goes beyond simple deduction calculations. It encompasses compliance, accuracy, and efficient processing, which are integral to the topic of payroll deductions. By leveraging these advantages, employers ensure a smooth and transparent payroll process, contributing to employee satisfaction and a legally compliant work environment.

Disadvantages of Using Professional Payroll Services

While using professional payroll services in Singapore offers several benefits, there are also potential disadvantages that employers should consider, particularly in the context of calculating payroll deductions. These drawbacks should be weighed against the advantages to make an informed decision. Here are some of the disadvantages associated with using professional payroll services:

  1. Cost: Hiring professional payroll services comes with a financial cost. Employers need to allocate budget for these services, which might be an added expense, especially for small businesses with limited resources.

  2. Loss of Control: Outsourcing payroll can result in a loss of direct control over the payroll process. Employers need to rely on the service provider to accurately calculate deductions, which may lead to concerns about transparency and accuracy.

  3. Confidentiality Concerns: Sharing sensitive employee information with an external party raises data security concerns. Employers need to ensure that the payroll service provider has robust data protection measures in place.

  4. Customization Limitations: Some payroll service providers offer standardized solutions, which may not fully align with the unique needs of every business. Employers may face limitations in customizing deduction calculations according to their specific requirements.

  5. Communication Challenges: Outsourcing may lead to communication challenges. Employees may have queries or concerns about deductions, and relying on a third party to address these issues might result in delays or misunderstandings.

  6. Dependency: Employers become dependent on the payroll service provider's accuracy and reliability. Any errors or delays in calculations could have a direct impact on employee morale and trust.


In conclusion, understanding how payroll deductions are calculated is essential for employers aiming to manage employee compensation effectively. By comprehending the intricacies of various deductions, legal requirements, and available services, employers can ensure accurate and compliant payroll practices that contribute to positive employee relations.


  1. What is the purpose of payroll deductions? Payroll deductions serve to cover taxes, benefits, and other authorized expenses, ensuring employees receive accurate net pay.

  2. Can employers make deductions without employee consent? In most cases, employers cannot make deductions without proper employee consent or legal requirement.

  3. Are there any limits to the amount that can be deducted? Yes, legal limits exist to prevent excessive deductions that could unfairly impact an employee's compensation.

  4. How often should payroll deductions be reviewed? Payroll deductions should be reviewed regularly to ensure accuracy and compliance with changing regulations.

  5. Is outsourcing payroll services a common practice? Yes, outsourcing payroll services is a common practice due to its benefits in accuracy and time savings.


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